Marking the company’s tenth collaboration with Marvel Studios, Munich-based VFX house Trixter delivers CG spaceships, downtown LA environments and a CG cat named Goose for ‘Captain Marvel.’
Marking its tenth collaboration with Marvel Studios, German VFX house Trixter contributed 280 shots to the recent release of Captain Marvel at its Munich facility. Chris Townsend, the film’s overall VFX supervisor, engaged Trixter to deliver the CG cat Goose, one of Captain Marvel’s most compelling characters, along with some of the film’s early key space environments. VFX supervisor Dominik Zimmerle oversaw the team’s scope of work, which also included the search for Mar-Vell’s spaceship in the Quad Jet, the battle aboard the Skrull ship and escape pod crash, Vers’ combat training sequence against Yon-Rogg, and Captain Marvel’s weapons, including energy building and intensifying through her hands and the subsequent Photon Blast.
Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel is based on the Marvel comic character that first appeared in 1968. Set in the 1990s, Captain Marvel follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth and Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.
The primary challenge for Trixter was to blend the 70 CG digital Goose shots with real live-action cat footage. “Although there were four cats on set all playing the same Goose role, and we received reference videos from the cat trainer, it was still hard to achieve seamless back to back CG takeovers of Goose,” Zimmerle explains. “We created Goose’s CG fur using Yeti. It was important to match the fur texture and clumping patterns of Reggie (the main cat on set); his fur was more scruffed up on his back and his belly fur was longer and fluffier. Matching our CG fur to the real cat fur was a huge challenge, as was achieving the natural interaction between Samuel L. Jackson and the CG Goose.” The team used the ZIVA muscle system to achieve the skin deformation, sliding and jiggling so Goose appears to move in a lithe, fluid and realistic way.
Captain Marvel The VFX Work By Marvel Studios
The largest sequence within Trixter’s body of work for Captain Marvel was the Mindfrack ship escape, which sees Vers battling to escape the Skrulls and their ship. Trixter was responsible for the extensive damage to the ship throughout the battle, the energy effects from the Mindfrack machine and the ship’s core breaking. Carol’s photon powers and many other effects like the Skrulls’ shock stick weapons and the ships consoles (christened “dough balls” by the VFX crew) were also completed by Trixter.
Throughout the escape sequence, Carol’s efforts to break free of her cuff restraints increase, so Trixter had to ensure the gradual intensification of the energy building and glowing through her hands was consistently applied. From the initial battle in the interrogation room, the fighting moves to the ship’s core, where the most dramatic battle damage takes place. The destruction of the ship was primarily created in Houdini and the FX team were meticulous in ensuring that the incremental damage was consistent with the action.
Another set of hero shots see Carol hanging onto the core of the ship, before blasting herself through a door into relative safety. Larson was filmed on set against blue screen hanging from a rig within a partial practical ship set. Trixter created the CG space environment for the sequence. In one of Trixter’s most challenging CG shots, the team replaced the practical set piece background wall with an animated continuously breaking one by adding debris and airflow to the foreground as well as several impact explosions from the debris hitting the energy core.
Digidoubles of the Skrulls were created for some fight scenes along with additional Skrulls who are sucked out of the ship. Compositing was integral to the success of the final sequence, from rig removal to paint work and the further removal of stunt rigs for the practical fighting.
Zimmerle was on set for the filming of the Mindfrack sequence, with animation director Simone Kraus present for several other sequences. “Although Marvel’s VFX production team coordinated on set photography, capturing HDRI, Lidars and texture photography, being on set ourselves was very helpful,” Kraus noted. “Our primary role was to understand the scene set up, getting a full picture of the set and scope of the work to be expected. This meant that our team back in Germany were prepared for exactly what had been shot and what they would be receiving, so that they could begin work as early as possible.”
Another notable aspect of Trixter’s work included Captain Marvel’s primary energy weapon, the Photon Blast. This was the first asset Trixter began working on even before principal photography began. Zimmerle and the team were responsible for developing a weapon style that had not been seen before in the MCU, the blast had to appear connected to Carol and its power wielded from within her. Marvel supplied Trixter with extensive still and moving image references. This combined with internal concept art, resulted in a finalized asset being developed and set up in Houdini, which was locked and shared with other vendors for use throughout the film.
Founded two decades ago by Simone Kraus and Michael Coldewey, TRIXTER is one of Germany`s leading VFX studios, creating stunning high end VFX work and character animation for film and television.